UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

CT (Computed Tomography)

What you need to know..

What is a CT Scan?

Your physician has requested a CT scan to assist in evaluating your health status. This scan is done in the Radiology Department and involves the use of x-rays to examine cross-sectional views of any part of the body. CT is short for Computed Tomography, an advanced technology system that studies the inner workings of your body. The physician can actually "see" your organs. The CT scanner takes multiple images in a very short amount of time.

Preparation for the Scan

For many CT scans, patients will receive IV contrast material (also known as x-ray dye or iodine contrast) and may drink oral contrast for certain exams. IV contrast is given through a vein in the arm to highlight certain organs and blood vessels. You will be asked to sign a consent form for this contrast.

You may be asked not to eat or drink anything 4 to 6 hours before the scan. Patients having a CT of the abdomen or pelvis, will need to drink contrast at least an hour prior to the exam. This oral contrast highlights the stomach and small bowel, which helps identify your internal organs. In some cases, rectal contrast may be used to highlight the colon. Sometimes, blood may be drawn prior to your exam to check your kidney function.

If you know you are allergic to iodine contrast or are diabetic or hypertensive, please advise your physician and the technologist before your CT scan. Let the technologist know if you are, or suspect you might be pregnant before your CT scan.

During the Scan

The length of time involved depends on the area of the body being scanned. Any exam could take approximately 10 to 30 minutes. You will need to lie motionless on the scanner table after the technologist positions you for the scan. The scanner table moves though the machine, but the machine will not touch you. The area that is being examined will remain inside the scanner.

It is very important that you remain still when the images are being taken so that the images are not blurred or information is not missed. You may be asked to hold your breath for the pictures. More specific instructions will be given to you at the time of your scan. While your CT is being checked for clarity, you may be asked to wait. If additional images are needed, they will be taken at that time.

After the Scan

Previous activities may be resumed unless otherwise instructed by your physician or nurse. Your CT scan will be reviewed by a Radiologist and a report will be sent to your doctor in approximately 3 days. Your physician will discuss the results with you. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your test results and their impact on your health. If you have any questions, please ask your physician.

Most patients are able to return to a normal diet and activities immediately following the exam. If a contrast material is used, it is naturally eliminated from your system. Oral contrast material may cause diarrhea in some patients.

If you have more questions about your CT scan, please feel free to call the UnityPoint Health - Des Moines Radiology Department that you will be going to for your procedure at:

Iowa Lutheran Hospital

CT is on Level A West
700 East University
Des Moines, IA 50316
515-263-5205

Iowa Methodist Medical Center

CT is on Level North C
1200 Pleasant Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
515-241-6171

Methodist West Hospital

CT is on the Second Floor
1660 60th Street
West Des Moines, IA 50266
515-343-1800

To schedule or reschedule your appointment please call (515) 241-6111